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David Leach

David Leach Construction Manager Credits JVS As His Blueprint For Success

David Leach, Computerized Design and Drafting, Class of: 1996
Imagine. . . just imagine being in your 20’s and finding yourself at the helm of a $17-million construction project. You’re the project manager . . . the “go to guy” and it’s you’re name on the bottom line.

Imagine having a crew of workers . . . most of them old enough to be your father . . . hanging on your every word. Imagine further, that one of them actually IS your father, but he’s working for you.
Imagine the biggest job of your career. Imagine being in charge of building a brand new high school in the same county you grew up in.

Welcome to reality.

Twenty-seven year old David Leach is a project manager for The Cornice Company Inc., and is currently overseeing the construction of the Keystone School District’s new $17 million high school in LaGrange. It’s the biggest project Leach has managed to date.

In the construction world, 27 years old is considered young to be overseeing a multi-million dollar project. An easy smile crosses Leach’s boyish looking face when he recalls the reaction some people had when they found out he was project manager for the high school construction project.

“The Keystone superintendent was a little surprised at how young I was when he met me for the first time,” Leach said. “But I quickly let him know that my dad, the field superintendent on the worksite, has 30 years of construction experience, and is the eyes and ears of the operation every day.”

David Leach bucked the trend. While most of his peers from Avon Lake High School, where he graduated from in 1996, attended traditional four-year colleges, Leach chose another route to achieve his career goals.

At age 16 he decided to attend the Lorain County JVS to obtain skills in technical drafting, computer aided design, and blueprint reading and enrolled in the two-year Technical Drafting Program. (The program has since been renamed, and is now called Computerized Design and Drafting).

One of the reasons Leach decided to make the 45-minute drive everyday from Avon Lake was to take advantage of the College Options program. He spent a part of his school day at Lorain County Community College getting a head start on an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Design while he was still a high school student at the JVS.


I’ve never been content with sitting still for too long,” he said. “If I have an opportunity to move ahead, I take it.” Leach recognized another opportunity to “move ahead” when the JVS Career Services Office offered him the opportunity to use his technical skills as a contract drafter in the Research and Development Department at Chiron Diagnostics, which was then based in the Oberlin Industrial Park. It didn’t take him long, however, to realize that what he was learning at the JVS, at LCCC and on the job, were solid basic skills and practical real world work experience. It was also at this point that Leach realized that he didn’t want to spend his work day sitting inside an office building.

He’d grown up in his family’s construction business and knew he wanted to use his skills to be a part of this industry. His career path led him down many roads which eventually led him to The Cornice Company, a construction management firm based in Fairlawn, Ohio.

His responsibilities as a project manager include trouble shooting with contractors, processing change orders, contract negotiation and administration, and acting as a liaison between the field superintendents and the customer. He’s right in the thick of the construction industry and he loves it. And he’s not sitting behind a desk all day.

“The Cornice Company builds schools, commercial properties, municipal buildings and high-end residential projects,” affirmed Leach.

Since he began with the company he has managed several multi-million dollar residential projects and oversaw construction of a six million dollar safety center in Jackson Township near North Canton. The new Keystone High School is his most challenging project in terms of size – 100,000-square-feet – and cost. The school sits on 60 acres and is expected to open in June 2006. It will replace the current high school that was built in the late 1800’s.

Leach has been working closely with the JVS in hopes of using students from the new Landscape & Greenhouse Management Program to landscape the Keystone site when it’s ready.

Two of Leach’s siblings also attended the JVS. Jill Leach graduated in 1997 in the Diversified Health Occupations Program and Jeremiah Leach followed in his brother’s footsteps and graduated in 1999 from the Computerized Design and Drafting Program. Both are working in their fields today and Jeremiah runs his own contracting business.

For David Leach, it took a leap of faith to move away from what even his local guidance counselors were suggesting, which was a traditional four-year college degree.

But he trusted his own instincts.

Looking back, Leach can say attending the JVS was the best step he’s ever taken. “I put myself right into the field learning on the job and gaining invaluable experience,” he said. “This on-the-job training has advanced my career more quickly than many people I know who have four-year construction management degrees.”

“I knew I wanted to take a different route to prepare for my career because I wanted the hands-on training that the JVS offered,” affirmed Leach. “The JVS experience worked for me and my career.”

When it’s all said and done, you can rest assured of several things about David Leach. The new Keystone High School will be finished on time and under budget. With his father’s help and guidance, David will always be looking forward to the next big opportunity. And, when he finds it, he won’t be sitting still.
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